Jeopardy!’s eligibility requirements are few in number (the hazing doesn’t start until the in-person audition, presumably) and, for the most part, reasonable: You must be 18 or older to compete (except for Teen Tournament, College Championship, or Kids’ Week contestants), you can’t have appeared on the show at any other point during Alex Trebek’s reign as host, you can’t be employed by or related to anyone working for Sony or CBS, blah, blah, and you can’t be Canadian. This is all made clear in the “Be A Contestant” section of the Jeopardy! website, which includes this stipulation: “At this time we are precluded from accepting registration information from Canadian residents. We are currently evaluating this matter.”
If you feel blindsided by this sudden exclusion of knowledgeable Canucks from the quiz-show proceedings, that’s because it’s only recently been enacted, though it currently has no bearing on who can host the show, so we’re stuck with Trebek for at least a little while longer. NPR picked up the story from multiple Canadian outlets including the Toronto Star, which wryly noted that Trebek could be the only Canadian seen on the show going forward. The decision is being attributed to Canadian online privacy regulations, though no one law has been singled out as the reason for preclusion. The official statement from Jeopardy! producers just indicates they’re looking into how to accept new registrations from Canadian contestants.
“As international laws governing how information is shared over the internet are ever-changing and complex, we are currently investigating how we can accept registrations from potential Canadian contestants.”
Not one to leave his fellow Great White Northerners out in the cold, Trebek told the Ottawa Citizen that “Canadians make great game show contestants. We look forward to having more try out as soon as we are sure we can comply with all Canadian online privacy laws.” Trebek also pointed out that registrants remain in the contestant pool for 18 months, so any Canadians who’d already made it that far still have a chance to compete. But the overall lack of specifics is grating the nerves of our otherwise unflappable northern neighbors, who have always taken care not to end their question-framed responses with “eh?”. Comments in a CBC story on the odd new requirement suggested that Canadians were being prohibited from participating because of their success on the show (though that’s questionable). We’ll be following the matter closely, as it could eventually boil over into a heated, albeit still polite, debate.